Nobel Prize: institution, award procedure and laureates

Nobel Prize: institution, award procedure and laureates
Content Share

Autumn days from October 7 to 14 are special for the whole world. In Stockholm and Oslo, those who have become Nobel Prize winners, as well as prizes paid by the State Bank of Sweden, are announced.

The first are awarded for outstanding results in such sciences as medicine and physiology, physics, chemistry, as well as for contribution to world literature. The Nobel Peace Prize is also awarded. The second – for achievements in the field of economics. This award is dedicated to the memory of Alfred Nobel.

Establishment of awards

Nobel Prizes owe their appearance to Alfred Bernharder Nobel (1833 – 1896), who distinguished himself as an inventor and industrialist. In 1895, Nobel made a will. It states, it says, that annually the income from his capital, divided into five equal parts, should be distributed in the form of bonuses.

The first time the prizes were awarded in 1901. In 1968, the State Bank of Sweden turned 300 years old. In honor of the anniversary, this bank founded its own “Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics”. Its first award took place in 1969. Since then, it has been happening at the same time that the Nobel Prizes are awarded. It is financed by the Swedish state bank.

Alfred Bernharder Nobel
Alfred Bernharder Nobel. Picture:

The administrative body responsible for the awarding of prizes, the Nobel Foundation. It was created in 1900 and is located in Stockholm. The fund’s assets are 4.3 billion Swedish kronor (approximately 500 million US dollars). In the year of foundation, the value of the assets reached 31 million kroons.

Amount of the Nobel Prize

The total amount of the award in 2019 reached 9 million SEK (approximately 914 thousand dollars). If the circumstances of the laureate are such that he will not be able to receive the prize within a year, the amount due to him will remain in the fund.

How much is the reward in USD:

  • In 1992, 1.04 million
  • In 2000, 0.9 million
  • In 2003, 1.34 million
  • In 2004, 1.46 million
  • In 2005, 1.25 million
  • In 2006, 1.45 million
  • In 2007, 1.56 million
  • In 2008, 1.25 million
  • In 2009, 1.45 million
  • In 2010, 1.5 million
  • In 2011, 1.4 million
  • In 2012, 1.2 million
  • In 2015 – 950 thousand
  • In 2016, 1.1 million
  • In 2017, 1.1 million
  • In 2019, 1.1 million

It is easy to calculate that at the present exchange rate in rubles, the amount of the premium is approximately 70.5 million rubles.

Upon receipt of a check for money, the laureate receives a diploma and a gold medal. Diplomas are issued by the administrative body that awards the awards. Throughout the time, the text in the diplomas does not change. As for their decoration, changes are taking place here, as it is being developed by various artists.

Richard Branson: biography of the founder of Virgin
Richard Branson: biography of the founder of Virgin

The front side of the medals and prizes is a surface with a portrait of Alfred Nobel. The material for the manufacture of medals is 18 carat gold. They are made at the mints of Sweden and Norway by hand.

Awarding awards

The Medicine and Physiology Prize is awarded by the Karolinska Institute. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards prizes in physics, chemistry and economics. The Swedish Academy awards the Nobel Prize in Literature. Usually, awards in the field of named sciences are awarded for discoveries that have been made before. The Literature Prize is awarded for a range of works created by a writer.

Nobel Prize

The Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. It has five people who are appointed by the country’s parliament. They are public and political figures. This order is observed because Nobel decided so. Why this decision was made is not known. As follows from the assumption, Nobel decided to share duties on the basis of the Swedish-Norwegian union (the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway in 1814-1905).

According to accepted standards, the award cannot be awarded to more than three people. When awarding two or three laureates, if they made a joint scientific discovery, the prize is divided equally. A variant is possible in which two openings are noted. Moreover, if two people made one discovery, they get one quarter of the amount each. The same person can only be awarded the prize once. The deprivation of the received premium is excluded.

Van Gogh: biography of a representative of expressive painting
Van Gogh: biography of a representative of expressive painting

The nomination process begins in September. It ends on January 31 next year. For fifty years, all materials relating to the selection of candidates nominated for the award are not disclosed. For example, documents dated 1969 and earlier are now available to the general public.

It happened that they could not find worthy candidates, and then the prizes were not awarded. This happened during the First and Second World Wars. In May 2018, the Swedish Academy of Sciences decided to award the Nobel Prize for that and subsequent years once in 2019. The reason was the scandalous events associated, among other things, with cases of information leakage, at the suggestion of representatives of the academic community. Due to their intemperance, the winners became known before the official announcement.

Posthumous Awards

Since 1901, it has happened that Nobel Prizes have been awarded posthumously. So in 1931 the prize for literature was awarded to Erik Karlfeldt, a Swedish writer who died in April of that year.

Greta Thunberg is the most famous “green” activist
Greta Thunberg is the most famous “green” activist

It was also awarded in 1961 to UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld (Swede), who died in a plane crash in September of that year. Posthumous awarding by the Nobel Foundation was banned in 1974. However, Canadian professor Ralph Steinman was posthumously awarded in 2011. The reason – that he died (September 30), became known after the decision had already been made.


The prizes are awarded on December 10, the day of Alfred Nobel’s death. This happens in Stockholm and Oslo. The Peace Prize is presented in Oslo. This is carried out by the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

At the same time, the King of Norway is present. The process of presenting the rest of the awards takes place in Stockholm. Presented by the King of Sweden.

Nobel Prize 2019

At the moment, the names of the Nobel Prize winners in physics, physiology and medicine and chemistry are known. On October 10, the winners in the field of literature for 2018 and 2019 were announced. On October 11, the names of the Peace Prize winners were announced. And on October 14, 2019, the prize in economic sciences was awarded.

Nobel Laureates in Physics 2019

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the discovery of exoplanets. For the first time, the lightest planet revolving around a star like the Sun was discovered by the Swiss Didier Quelo and Michel Mayor.

Stephen Hawking: biography of the great scientist
Stephen Hawking: biography of the great scientist

Lev Zeleny, who heads the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, an academician, highly appreciated this discovery. He called the discovery a sensation. Making a comparison with something understandable, which would make it possible to better understand the significance of the achievement, the academician compared the discovery with such an experience: “While on Earth, you need not only to see a newspaper lying on the moon, but also to read the text.”

Didier Queloz and Michel Mayor
Didier Queloz and Michel Mayor. Picture:

The Nobel Prize in Physics for “theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology” was also awarded to Canadian astrophysicist James Peebles. He conducted research on dark matter, studied the problems of the formation of galaxies, their clusters, and the comic microwave background. Peebles’ research allowed scientists to discover new physical processes.

Prize in Physiology or Medicine

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to two Americans, William Kaelin and Greg Semenz, and Briton Peter Ratcliffe. They worked independently of each other. They managed to solve a riddle over which scientists have struggled since the nineteenth century. We are talking about the role of oxygen, without which living organisms cannot exist.

Elon Musk: biography of a man who seeks to colonize Mars
Elon Musk: biography of a man who seeks to colonize Mars

Commenting on the scientists’ discovery, Yegor Yegorov, a researcher at the Institute of Molecular Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, recalled that earlier scientists “poorly understood the role of oxygen,” how the volume of oxygen content affects cellular metabolism and physiological functions.

Speaking about the role of oxygen, the representative of the Russian Academy of Sciences suggests that the discovery will play a significant role in the treatment of cancer. Perhaps, using the work of these scientists, it will be possible to regulate the level of “proteins of the HIF family, which will help fight cancer and other diseases.”

Award in Chemistry

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the Americans John Goodenough and Stanley Whittingham, and the Japanese Akira Yoshino (Yoshino). They worked on the development of lithium-ion batteries. It is due to these devices that it was possible to create unmanned aerial vehicles and even controlled ones that carry passengers. They are used both in electric vehicles and in gadgets that can work for several days without recharging.

Akira Yoshino - John Goodenough - Stanley Whittingham
Akira Yoshino – John Goodenough – Stanley Whittingham. Picture:

According to the Nobel Committee, such batteries are the future, since they can be charged from any source of electricity. Including using the sun’s rays or the wind. This is a step on the way of mankind from traditional fuel to renewable energy sources.

2019 Nobel Laureates in Economics

The 2019 Economics Prize went to US economists Abidjit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer for their pioneering approach to fighting global poverty.

“Research findings from <…> laureates have significantly improved our ability to fight poverty in practice. One of their studies resulted in more than five million children in India taking part in a supplementary education program,” the committee said in a statement. about the writings of Duflo and Banerjee.

Favorites and 2019 Literature Award Winner

The Austrian playwright Peter Hendke (in 2019) and the Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk (in 2018) became laureates of the Nobel Prize in Literature. When justifying the award, Tokarczuk noted the writer’s inherent “narrative imagination, which with encyclopedic passion represents crossing borders as a form of life.”

Albert Einstein: biography of a man ahead of his time
Albert Einstein: biography of a man ahead of his time

Speaking of Hendke’s award, Mats Malm, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, singled out his “influential work in which, with linguistic ingenuity, he explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”

The predictions were very different, according to assumptions about a possible winner, in the first place – 69-year-old Canadian writer and poet Ann Carson. The second place in the list belongs to the Frenchwoman Maryse Conde. On the third line is the writer from China Zhang Xue. On the fourth – the author from Japan Haruki Murakami. In fifth place is a writer from Russia, whom many bookmakers predicted victory, Lyudmila Ulitskaya. Ulitskaya’s work is characterized as a “family romance”.

Nobel Prize 2020

The Nobel Prize ceremony, which this year amounted to $ 1.12 million, is scheduled for December 10 (graduation), but the COVID-19 pandemic has made its own adjustments, in connection with which the ceremony will be held online.

Nobel Peace Prize 2020

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize went to the World Food Programme, created back in the 1960s to fight hunger. As noted in the Nobel Committee, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of hunger, and immediately in a number of regions of the world, has increased significantly.

Vladimir Putin – President of the Russian Federation
Vladimir Putin – President of the Russian Federation

Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump were considered as contenders for the Peace Prize. The person of Alexei Navalny was not left without attention.

Nobel Laureates in Economics 2020

The Alfred Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to American scientists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson, who managed to invent fundamentally new auction formats.


Michael Houghton, an Englishman, and two Americans, Harvey Alter and Charles Rice, have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of hepatitis C.

Nobel Prize

The most interesting thing is that a new type of hepatitis was described in detail by Olter back in 1989, and a year later, Houghton published articles on the detection of antibodies to the virus. In 2013, a corresponding vaccine was introduced.


The prize in physics, and half, was awarded to the representative of Great Britain, Roger Penrose, who made a discovery in the field of astrophysics. The study of black holes made it possible to prove that the very formation of these space objects can be perceived as a kind of confirmation of the theory of relativity.

Jack Ma – Founder of Alibaba Group
Jack Ma – Founder of Alibaba Group

As for the second part of the prize, it was divided between American astrophysicists Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, who discovered a supermassive compact object in the center of the Milky Way.

Nobel Prize in Literature 2020

American Louise Gluck won the Nobel Prize in Literature. P

The poetess is already the owner of a number of awards in this field, although much less prestigious. So, in 1968 she was awarded the prize of the American Academy of Poets. The poetess became the winner of the Pulitzer and Bollingen Prizes in 1993 and 2001, respectively.

Winners of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature

For an example and understanding of the rationale for the award in literature, we present a list of the latest award winners.

  • 2010 Mario Vargas Llosa – 1936 – Peru – For cartography of power structures and vivid images of resistance, rebellion and defeat of the individual.
  • 2011 Tumas Tranströmer – (1931-2015) – Sweden – For accurate and rich imagery that gave readers a new perspective on the real world.
  • 2012 Mo Yan – (1955) – China – For his breathtaking realism that combines folk tales with modernity.
  • 2013 Alice Munro – (1931) – Canada – To the Master of the Modern Short Story.
  • 2014 Patrick Modiano – (1945) – France – For the art of memory, through which he told about the most incomprehensible human destinies and the vital world of the occupation.
  • 2015 Svetlana Aleksievich – (1948) – Belarus – For her polyphonic work – a monument to the suffering and courage of our time.
  • 2016 Bob Dylan – (1941) – USA – For creating new poetic expressions in the great American song tradition.
  • 2017 Kazuo Ishiguro – (1954) – Great Britain – To a man who, in novels of great emotional power, opened the abyss under our illusory sense of connection with the world.


The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for the development of genome editing.

Melania Trump – smart and beautiful wife of the 45th President of the United States
Melania Trump – smart and beautiful wife of the 45th President of the United States

Frenchwoman Emmanuelle Charpentier and US representative Jennifer Doudna, who made the development of the genome editing method, became laureates in the field of chemistry. The method of editing the genome, for the development of which they received the award, has already become a revolution in genetics and biology, as well as medicine, allowing the creation of new methods to combat serious diseases that are hereditary in nature.

So, the “genetic scissors” they created allow changing the DNA of plants and animals, as well as microorganisms, and with a fairly high accuracy. According to scientists, this method will provide invaluable assistance in the development of fundamentally new methods of treating serious diseases, such as cancer. It is worth noting that for the first time in history, two women became Nobel Prize winners in this field.

Nobel Prize

It is worth noting that this year the Nobel Committee did not live up to the expectations of leading media companies making predictions based on the citation factor of scientists. So, according to analysts’ forecasts, the Korean Hyun Te Hwan and the Americans Christopher Murray and Maunga Baavendi, who made a discovery in the field of nanocrystals, had the greatest chances of receiving the award.

The Japanese Makoto Fujita, who collects three-dimensional structures from organic molecules that can be used as a kind of molecular containers for other substances, was also noted as a contender. It is possible that one of them will become a laureate next year.

Donald Trump: who taught Trump to win
Donald Trump: who taught Trump to win

As well-known scientists, including Vitaly Ginzburg, note, the prestigious scientific award has one very significant specificity – it still needs to be lived up to. Thus, Laureate Ginzburg received the Nobel Prize many years after his work on superconductivity was published. Researchers of the hepatitis C virus did not become laureates until 30 years after they made the discovery.

It is worth noting that the oldest laureate to date, who received the award in 2018, is Arthur Ashkin, who at that time was 96 years old. The average age of Nobel Prize winners is gradually increasing. So, if at the beginning of the last century it was 56 years old, now this figure is approaching the mark of 63 years.

Interesting facts about the Nobel Prize

  • Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg is nominated for this year’s award for her work on global warming.
  • In 2016, Yoshinori Ohsumi, a Japanese scientist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his study of autophagy processes in nutritional yeast (also known as the one-day fasting prize, but in fact, the prize was awarded for describing the mechanism of autophagy). Studies have found that fasting periods of 12 hours to 3 days have a positive effect on cell renewal and help slow down the aging process.
  • Why is there no Nobel Prize in Mathematics? Initially, Nobel included this science in the list, but later listed it as one of the sciences for achievements in which the Peace Prize was awarded. The real reason for such an act is unknown, but there is a legend that this is due to hostile relations from the Nobel with one of the mathematicians.
  • Why did the Russian mathematician Grigory Perelman refuse the prize for proving the Poincaré conjecture in 2006? Although he was awarded the Fields Medal, this is the most significant award for achievement in the field of mathematics, and is also called the mathematical Nobel Prize. The scientist explained his refusal as follows: “I learned how to calculate voids, together with my colleagues we will learn the mechanisms for filling social and economic voids. There are voids everywhere. They can be calculated, and this gives great opportunities,” Perelman said. how to manage the Universe. And tell me – why should I run after a million?!”
  • Among the winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics, which has been awarded 49 times from 1969 to the present, there is not a single scientist from Russia. 79 scientists-economists from other countries became laureates of the award. Most from the UK and USA.
  • For which Bunin received the Nobel Prize in 1933, the money from which Ivan Alekseevich donated to needy writers. ? The official text of the Swedish Academy stated that “The Nobel Prize in Literature … is awarded to Ivan Bunin for the rigorous skill with which he develops the traditions of Russian classical prose.”
  • Russian writers Boris Pasternak, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Mikhail Sholokhov, Iosif Alexandrovich Brodsky also won the award in the last century. A specific work is not indicated as justification for the award. For example, for Solzhenitsyn, the rationale is: “For the moral strength with which he followed the immutable traditions of Russian literature.”
  • Russian politician Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev “In recognition of his leading role in the peace process, which today characterizes an important part of the life of the international community”, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 15, 1990.
  • Outstanding Russian scientists D.I. Mendeleev, L.N. Tolstoy, A.P. Chekhov did not receive the prize, each for different reasons. According to various versions, Tolstoy did not want to receive it himself, Mendeleev was “interfered” by S. Arrhenius.
  • Barack Obama, former President of the United States, received the Nobel Peace Prize on October 9, 2009 with the rationale: “for extraordinary efforts in strengthening international diplomacy and cooperation between people.”
  • What did Einstein get the Nobel Prize for? The prize for 1921 was awarded to Albert Einstein (November 1922) for the theory of the photoelectric effect, the dependence of the photocurrent on voltage (saturation current) and on the wavelength of incident light (red border) was explained; however, the text of the nomination decision contained a neutral addition: “… and for other works in the field of theoretical physics.”